BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team man Jari-Matti Latvala has more than doubled his overnight advantage on Rally Finland this morning.
Latvala, who ended the opening leg with a 9.1 second cushion, began by setting the second quickest time through SS12, the 10.35 kilometre Kolonkulma test. He then went third quickest through SS13, before taking his fourth stage win of the event in Surkee 1. As a result he returned to the service in Paviljonki with a 22.5 second lead.
"The opening stage was good but I lost time on the second test," said Latvala. "I think that was due to my road position. The roads were drying and I was sweeping the loose gravel, so I was too careful and braked too early for the corners. That made me a bit angry and when I saw the roads were damp on the final stage, I decided to attack hard and it went really well. I'm concerned about the next two stages because conditions are drying all the time and I have to start first on the slippery gravel.
"I took risks on the first and last stages of the group, but you have to be clever and not take them all the time. I feel more comfortable on the smaller roads than on the faster, wider sections. You need to be confident to drive fast on the narrow parts between the rocks and I have that confidence. I feel relaxed and I'm enjoying it," he added.
Sebastien Ogier meanwhile now heads the chasing pack and he started strongly by setting the pace in the Kolonkulma 1. The Frenchman then went second in SS13 and SS14 to move in front of Petter Solberg.
"We did a good stage [this morning]. But it will be a very long day," Ogier noted. "We don't have the experience of this event and the team have asked me not to take any risks."
Solberg, who is now 6.1 seconds off second – and 28.6 seconds off the lead, was mystified by his lack of pace: "Honestly, I tried hard," said 'Hollywood', who was fourth fastest in SS12 and SS14 and fifth in SS13. "I don't have a clue why there is still a lot of difference between me and Latvala."
Next up is Sebastien Loeb and he is still very much in contention for a place on the rostrum, just 4.5 seconds off P3. The Frenchman was quickest in Vaarinmaja, but could 'only' post third fastest times in the other two tests.
"It was okay," said Loeb. "The conditions are good and running fourth is not a problem. I'm pushing but Ogier and Latvala are going very fast. It's a good race but my times could have been better."